Skip to main content

tv   Discussion on Russias Military Buildup Along Ukraine Border  CSPAN  December 20, 2021 3:58pm-5:38pm EST

3:58 pm
community center? it is way more. comcast is partnering with 1000 community centers to create wi-fi enabled -- so students from low income families can be ready for anything. >> comcast supports c-span as a public service along with these television providers, giving you a front row seat to democracy. announcer: next, we take a look at russia's military buildup over the ukrainian border and ways that the u.s. and european allies can support ukraine. -- posted the discussion.
3:59 pm
>> i am a senior policy advisor. it is great to see so many old friends and colleagues from the hill, the executive branch and the public, albeit virtually. you know why we are gathering today, but given the seriousness and urgency of the moment, the situation does bear repeating. the kremlin has dramatically increased its military activities and capabilities in and around ukraine, leading to predictions that the russian regime may be preparing for a major military operation. russian military movements have sufficiently worried u.s. and allied observers, that william burns was dispatched to moscow to telegraph our concerns. antony blinken has added to the chorus of alarms. our ukrainian foreign minister has described russia as --
4:00 pm
preparations for invasion. president biden held a two hour phone call with vladimir putin. according to open-source force composition totaled approximately a hundred thousand troops and a variety of heavy equipment and capabilities. the estimates do not include pre-positioned forces which could be searched rapidly in the event of military action. one source suggests that as many as 170 to 5000 troops are being prepared for invasion. the title of this event is defending ukraine, deterring putin. this is meant to capture key goals of this discussion. first, the importance of preserving ukraine's sovereignty. second, the urgency of deterring
4:01 pm
and expanding russia's invasion. to that end, i am beyond thrilled to welcome an all-star panel of experts to leave this important question. i will briefly recount their impressive biographies in their speaking order. after they speak, we will set aside time for a healthy q&a. please enter your questions in the chat and we will get to them. before we kick off, i want to recognize and thank the cochairman steve cohen for his participation in the event. i believe he is here. i would like you to offer remarks before i turned to the panelists. it seems he hasn't joined us just yet. so i will move on to introducing our panelists. first, i would like to welcome
4:02 pm
our frequent collaborator, andrew bowen, an analyst and russian in european affairs, where he focuses on russian politics, military and intelligence, and u.s. foreign policy towards russia. he is also as of yesterday a newly minted phd, so i believe welcome and a hearty congratulations is in order. second, robert lee, a phd candidate at the war studies department at king's college in london and a fellow at the research policy institute. in addition to being a highly respected expert on russian military capabilities, he is a must follow on twitter for his original open-source analysis and insights on russian military activity. third, i would like to welcome my old friend, an expert on security and currently an associate fellow at the world -- the royal united services institute in london. he is from ukraine and provides
4:03 pm
both a ukrainian perspective on the unfolding crisis, as well as a broader assessment based on extensive experience working in central and eastern europe. as well as from her current perch in the united kingdom. last and certainly not least is my friend, a belarusian analyst on policy and secured it. she is a visiting fellow at the strategic studies institute. like many independent belarusian representatives, she has had to leave belarus due to high risk of prosecution for her work. we thank her for her courage and participation today. unless mr. cohen has joined us, we can move on to the panelists.
4:04 pm
dr. bowen, lead us off with a baseline on strategic state of play. dr. bowen: absolutely and thank you for that introduction. it is pleasure to work with you and the helsinki commission. over the past year, rhetoric from russian policymakers and the use of a wide range of policy strategies has escalated tensions with russia's neighbors. in my remarks i will touch on them briefly and talk about russia's intentions, including themes related to russian perception of the strategic environment, recent shifts in rhetoric of russian policymakers, and potential major areas of concern. many of the issues and concerns highlighted in recent weeks, some of which i will describe , are long-standing leaving
4:05 pm
, commentators to question what -- question why russia is at also speculating about what , russia could gain with such policies, including -- one possible framework is that russian leaders are concerned about a deteriorating strategic environment. in this scenario, leaders could believe that russia's current economic, military and political situation is relatively advantageous, but may not continue into the future, thus weakening russia's bargaining position. to prevent a weakened bargaining position in the future, russian leaders may believe is worthwhile to conduct even more aggressive and risky policies to gain concessions, or settle issues on terms more favorable to russia, despite potential penalties and costs. some analysts point to an array of considerations.
4:06 pm
russian political and military leaders assert the increased expansion of nato in the -- nato and the presence of european and u.s. military forces on its order are an existential security threat to russia. while policymakers explicitly identify nato membership for ukraine and georgia as redlined, numerous also -- you must also note that russia's central concern is the western military forces and capabilities on or around russia's borders, which includes nato and u.s. military infrastructure. russia's political and military leaders are concerned that nato and u.s. military forces could eventually place long-range precision strike missiles nearby, especially in the black sea region, which could threaten moscow. russian policymakers cite these
4:07 pm
vectors as an attempt to encircle russia, while seemingly ignoring the role that aggressive russian policies played in the region. in particular, russia has improved and increased the military posture in the western strategic direction, which includes ukraine and the black sea region. russian leaders do not appear to have acknowledged this change as a reason for increased attention moreover, -- increased tension. moreover, they have increased concern on the aspiration to join nato even though the aspirations are not new, and the perceived -- by ukraine by russian interpretation and negotiate on the political status of russian backed entities. these concerns, which again have existed for years, come amidst increasingly aggressive and concerning rhetoric from russian policymakers.
4:08 pm
increasingly, russia's political and military leadership has cited growing aggression from nato and u.s. forces based in nato member countries. as previously noted, russia's leaders have spoken out horse forcefully on the expansion of nato to countries such as ukraine and georgia. specifically, president putin as well as other russian leaders, have grown increasingly strident into their denunciation and vilification of ukrainian leaders. this rhetoric is coupled with native characteristics of the ukrainian state and people, accusations of genocide, and russian leadership attempts to rewrite history towards a more favorable narrative to support current policies. many analysts and policymakers are concerned that such rhetoric could be used as a pretext and justification for more aggressive action.
4:09 pm
turning to the role of congress in the face of russian activities, congress has passed legislation to support allies and deter russian aggression. these measures include sanctions on russian energy, defense, and arms sales. some members of congress support harsher sanctions to advance a range of goals, such as responding to russian military activity, targeting corruption, and addressing russia's abuse of the western financial systems. congress has additionally encouraged efforts to bolster u.s. and nato forces, including a presence in the baltic. congress has supported providing ukraine with lethal and nonlethal training. these policies aid ukraine's efforts to reform its military to not only defend its integrity , but also meet nato standards. ukraine, supported by partners, has improved its capability
4:10 pm
since 2014, and now has a more capable and professional military. i would be happy to speak more on these. nevertheless, ukraine's military has room for improvement. while high levels of atrium -- of patriotism supports recruitment, the military culture is influenced by a legacy that does not adequately promote professionalism and competency, and it is hindered by bureaucratic processes and redundancy. this contributes to high turnover of professional officers and soldiers, making retention a major concern and leading to issues of mobilization and force projection. furthermore, ukraine has a large defense industrial sector which produces a wide range of systems, including antitank's, anti-ships, and tanks. many are capable systems but
4:11 pm
ukraine is still an immediate need of systems to fill gaps in its strategy. this includes more urgent assistance and support and logistics improving command and , control, electronic warfare, short range air defense, and medical supplies. for many in congress, supporting effective strategies to bolster ukraine's efforts to defend its territorial integrity remain a top priority. this will likely be a key area of focus in the days and weeks ahead. i look forward to your questions and comments. thank you. michael: thank you so much, andrew. that is incredibly helpful information and very useful analysis, alarming as it may be. turning to rob, if you could add to that from your perspective, what would you say is the situation with regard to russian
4:12 pm
military capabilities and what does that tell us about russia's strategic intent? rob: can everyone hear me? great. thanks so much for having me. i will dive into some of the military details. it is important to emphasize at the beginning that what we are seeing is a continuation of what began in the spring. in march, april, russia had a large-scale buildup in ukraine, ground forces, navy, and aerospace and airborne forces in the same locations. despite the large republic buildup covered on social media accounts, russia didn't provide much information on what they were doing, which is unusual. this includes a number of tanks and ballistic missile systems, and the arms army. it is quite a unique movement
4:13 pm
that normally doesn't happen during normal exercises. they also employed helicopters and moved them closer. russia sent in a significant reinforcement of naval capabilities. in april, russia had a large naval grouping in the black sea. they also added four ships and 10 artillery boats and landing craft for the flotilla. they had strong capability at the time, which attested during the exercise. they also ramped up airborne operations during exercise, in which 40 aircraft dropped two dozen paratroopers with 60 airborne armored vehicles. the inspection was announced to
4:14 pm
be a success and the units were moved back with the exception of the 41st staying behind. they said they would remain there until december. during that exercise, it was indicated that was not the purpose. the most recent activity began in october around the time ukraine kept the first airstrike. compared to the spring, a lot of equipment moved at nighttime and russia is trying to obscure what they are doing. during the spring buildup, a lot of equipment was moved to crimea, but not as much on ukraine's northern border. one of the big differences this time is the equipment for the 41st was moved 150 miles north of ukraine's border. that creates space where units
4:15 pm
from the first tank army based in moscow have been moved. a lot of what we are seeing now have been from a train station where the equipment is being moved to. the russian military has more power at the northern border compared to spring. it's only about 110 miles east. it is somewhat less in crimea. this leaves russia greater capacity for a large-scale invasion from the northeastern borders and threaten ukraine's capital. part of the reason why we are seeing uniforms -- seeing reinforcements is some russian units are being formed still. some divisions are not fully formed yet and units from other districts and areas are coming in. in addition to the units from the 41st, they've also sent elements from the 55th. there are elements from three
4:16 pm
rifle brigades and tank division. in addition, they have moved others closer to ukraine borders. russian airborne forces have also moved closer to the border as well. in addition to these being temporary deployments closer to ukraine, they are also deploying more permanent units. it appears the new regiment being formed, and equipment being moved there, and the air assault brigade has been created into a new regiment to move into crimea. you have additional permit these two units based in crimea.
4:17 pm
in addition, heavy engineering equipment, line clearing vehicles, air defense systems, logistic convoys, various systems, and a lot of significant assets. if russia did intend to invade, they would bring these assets , supporting assets, as well as tank units. they would not just invade with giller tanks, also these supporting assets -- just invade with regular tanks, also these supporting assets. the ukraine military said they deployed troops in the spring near ukraine. a combined arms formation with 700 to 900 personnel. typically it is based around a motorized tank unit with supporting attachments.
4:18 pm
air defense systems, electronic or fair, -- electronic warfare, tanks and tank companies and supporting assets. they are exclusively made by contract soldiers. they can deploy on short notice. intelligence found them near ukraine now and they expect up to 100 to be there. to put it in perspective, russian military is 168 in total. right now the force is a little less than one third of russia's total ground power. if they go up to 100, it would be two thirds of russia's total ground power near ukraine's orders. this is supported by reservists. they have a new program with contract soldiers. it is unclear how it works, but appears to be new in the summer. one of the most concerning
4:19 pm
aspects is russia is moving units based far away with heavy equipment. the things that take time to move in a very public to move. it means scrutiny from subarea in moscow and beyond. they are pre-positioned now and the concern is that if russia decides to invade the next steps will be faster with less warning. they are only a couple of hundred miles from the border, and they can move units that are lighter, and it is easier to deploy troops than heavy equipment. russia is moving military units to ukraine with capability for a large-scale ground invasion. if russia does not decide to escalate beyond the current action -- excuse me, if russia does decide, it would compel
4:20 pm
kiev to give into their demands. it would not necessarily be a territory, but it would inflict pain on ukraine and make conceding the preferable option. that could be done by destroying ships, soldiers, destroying infrastructure, and making the situation unsustainable. the extent to which russia pursues the most dangerous course of action depends on -- even if they decide not to support the ground division, they can do damage to the ukraine military with artillery, rocket systems, short range ballistic missiles. they have about four brigades relatively close to ukraine's borders now, and also cruise missiles. the black sea fleet has six
4:21 pm
summaries, three frigates, and four missile ships. they have cruise missiles with a range of 2000 kilometers. i would be happy to answer any questions you have. michael: thank you. thank you for that very interesting overview but also rather ominous one. i want to take a pause here and invite cochairman stephen cohen to offer remarks before we move on to the other panelists. the floor is yours. stephen: i appreciate it. i got in a little late, but i did hear enough to make me realize russia has more than enough forces to cause concern in ukraine, which i indeed have. mr. lee, you did not come to, and nobody can come to an
4:22 pm
extremely well-informed or i guess opinions what the russian intention would be, but can you give me any thought of that from their actions? have they done something like this before, if they have, when and where. if they haven't, does this indicate they are prepared to invade? rob: thank you. what i emphasize is that it is hard to determine if it is a probability for russian invasion. but it is almost certain that the risk of a large-scale russian escalation is greater now than any time since 2015. the capabilities are there. they had similar capabilities in the spring. they haven't done anything like that since 2015 or 2014. the capability now is more than 2015 or 2014. the russian military is more capable. in terms of assessing how likely it is, it is hard to tell. the issue is when you recognize
4:23 pm
the continuation of the spring, russia was trying to send a signal in the spring and trying to warn nato and the u.s. about actions we were taking that they considered were crossing the red lines. then you look at the events over the summer, i think from a russian perspective, they think the red lines have been crossed, and this this the last warning we are going to get. what concerns me is they will have the capability in place for a large-scale escalation soon in -- soon, and the demands and rhetoric become heated and specific, and they had built up in the spring and it becomes more of a credibility test for the russian leadership. all that makes me much more concerned. i don't know if i could say it is probable but i would not be surprised if it occurs and there are number following this closely who feel it is more likely to occur than not occur. stephen: you said the last major
4:24 pm
buildup was 2014 to 2015. the military has increased. but proportionally it might have been as large? rob: the size of order now, but the russian military had more than 2014 and 2015. ukraine military is much more capable than it was then so russia needs greater power to invade now than they would back then. in terms of buildups, i am not sure if we have seen anything since 2014, 2015 like we saw this year in the spring in -- spring and the october, the fall buildups, just because they involved so much equipment at a high percentage of the russian military combat power. so 2014 was unique because russia decided to invade. i don't think they were expecting that ahead of time. this time they had time to plan. time to prepare. what they have done is deployed
4:25 pm
a lot of key units to ukraine. they brought back divisions for fighting large-scale wars. they are receiving contract soldiers and equipment. it all points to ukraine being the biggest problem set of the russian military based on disposition and the placement. the buildup we are seeing now is unlike anything we have seen any time before this, if we don't count spring as part of this continuation. stephen: in 2014 and 2015, is that when they went forward? rob: it occurred in 2014 and there was involvement of russian forces over the summer but the large involvement came in august when the ukraine military were able to come together and push back some of the hybrid forces, volunteers and russian military. they had success in july and
4:26 pm
august, when the russian military deployed large-scale, not necessarily overt but essentially over structures. stephen: how many casualties did the russians take on in that action? rob: i don't have the data on me, and the russians don't acknowledge their actions. they try to hold off in publishing data figures. there were hundreds of deaths and units that took significant casualties. stephen: thank you. i want to listen to the other panelists before we go further, but we need to do what we can to protect ukraine and let the russians know we are not going to accept their aggression and there will be sanctions in -- sanctions and additional -- we have to support ukraine,
4:27 pm
because otherwise it is prudent and the soviet union. -- it is putin and the soviet union. michael: thank you. i couldn't agree more. i think we can move on to a doctor who can provide perspective from a ukrainian view, but also as someone who has worked in and around the region extensively and also has a unique perspective working from london and among our friends there looking at the situation unfold with great interest and concern. >> thank you very much, michael. thank you for the opportunity to address the helsinki commission on this important subject today. i posted russian military buildup next to the ukrainian border in the occupied crimea.
4:28 pm
as we have seen, russia's intentions are obscure. this is to intimidate ukraine or whether this is a separation for some sort of military scenario against ukraine or some kind of scenario targeting critical infrastructure. they have capabilities in place and if russia wants to invade , and if the political decision was taken to do so, it has all the necessary military assets in place. it is prudent i believe for everybody to assume the worst since we are all very well aware of russia's overall strategy toward ukraine and the west, and
4:29 pm
there is a sense now that russia chose to escalate and raise the stakes considerably. let me stop on russia's written proposal on the guarantee. i believe this fight sheds light on the nature of expectations and scenarios. this proposal signals that a scenario that is dependent on the progress of the security guarantees. with the u.s. and the west. it makes perfect sense for russia to link the two. kremlin's war against ukraine has been a proxy war with the west, and intimidating ukraine has been an instrument to engage the u.s. and the west and what russia calls a more just
4:30 pm
international security order. which implies limited sovereignty for the states in the soviet space. the security guarantees that russia's demands includerussia s where they will become the commanders with other nato members committed not to deploy strike weapons systems with the characteristics of states that border as the russians read the principle of the indivisible security contrary to the democratic systems that they are based on with particular
4:31 pm
difficulty that each sovereign nation is entitled to. now, kremlin is on the ground with the receptiveness of the western governments to this idea , this notion of security guarantees and if rejected, of course, russia is likely to in bad faith have sentiment towards domestic discourse, but the calculation has been, i would argue, to have this proposal partially accepted that the dialogue would start with the west where the west will elaborate or offer some kind of confidence building measure because no one will call it a security guarantee, but russia hopes that this will allow military cooperation with ukraine or abstain from military presence in the black sea.
4:32 pm
etc. i believe that russian statements about the security guarantee will prove to be a crucial threshold and a reference point for the future of the interactions. it is a comprehensive outline of russian requests or even demands, and done under the circumstances of a massive military buildup, i believe it is a language of ultimatum and will be the munich speech. russia is likely to want the security guarantee within all relevant international platforms and is already mentioning what will happen in an attempt to advance this idea in the next round of the u.s. russia
4:33 pm
dialogue on strategic stability. russia, kremlin sees that cooperation at the moment as pressure on the russian term. at the moment the u.s. is preoccupied with china and the u.s. has not used its collaboratives to block the nord stream 2 project and has indicated they are open for dialogue with russia on strategic stability and other crucial issues. recently there has been a number of areas analyzed, including in the u.s., on what the west or u.s. should do to address this russian growing belligerence. naturally, those discussions have deteriorated in ukrainian policymaking and civil society. to translate some of the passages here, it has been that rare -- it has been reassuring
4:34 pm
to ukraine of course to hear from washington that no discussions will take place a grout -- about ukraine without ukraine and that ukraine will not be pushed into some kind of pressure to advance a dialogue with russia and this is of course this very important signal it seems around the apprehensions that ukraine and many other central europe states might have or have had based on their historical experience of being left out of these great power conversations about their state. it has been quite worrisome that some of the arguments we have heard and read recently are arguments intended not to provoke russia and have cited ukraine's security interests in the first place and this desire not to undermine ukrainian security as the main motivation.
4:35 pm
those analyzed have cited engagement as a fact that the west will never match russian interests in ukraine. but i would argue, and many ukrainians see it this way, the argument that ukraine would be better off if the west disengages and stops providing military assistance, this argument is misguided at best, even dangerous. there is no evidence suggesting that as a result of any kind of bargain between russia and the west, in exchange for concessions, russia will provide some sort of reciprocal guarantee of security. or even stop the destabilizing of ukraine or stop waging their war. there is a perspective that yes, this has been, this is a ukrainian perspective as well
4:36 pm
that yielded -- yielding to russian pressure will not bring a lasting solution or de-escalation that everybody is very hopeful to get, because there is no evidence to suggest that the actions of the best in the first place as provoked will lead to this massive escalation. contrary to what some might argue, i think that the most visible de-escalation tool for russian offensive action to the extent that it can assess the potential losses and gains to deteriorate from this aggression , this kind of escalate de-escalate strategy is a very visible option i believe at the moment. to sum up, what is the best policy response to the proposed security guarantees around the military buildup and growing
4:37 pm
russian belligerence in general? i think the critical point here is to remedy these measures of engagements that i've mentioned in ukraine. it can involve the kremlin and invite even more aggressive action in the end it exit or plausible than just abstaining and trying not to provoke russia. the risks of yielding to russian pressure outweigh the risks of engagement or bigger engagement. we have seen that in the past russia has used their military force because they have not been able to access 66 -- sufficient deference and i think this lesson has to be learned and the aim should now be to towards the destabilizing of ukraine. before talking about the future and the kind of scenario that russia will opt for, of course
4:38 pm
abstaining from low intensity conflict in ukraine, maintaining this veto power on the future of ukraine already served russian interests sufficiently. i believe that the decisions to escalate militarily more profoundly will be taken only in the event of russian decision-makers sensing that achieved outcomes to engage would be more beneficial than the current status and that there would be no, that the costs would be acceptable. in my experience it is that russia is quite emotional about ukraine but can act irrationally but i believe that nobody should be misled by this notion because russia is acting on the basis of rational calculation and it can be discouraged from major action
4:39 pm
if there is a credible deference policy in place. thank you very much for your attention and i look forward to further discussion. michael: thank you so much, maryna, for the announcement. turning to our next guest, to what extent do you think larue's is potentially involved in the gambit? katrina: i will try not to overshadow the discussion on ukraine with the belarusian discussion but talk about something relevant to my home country. in august of 2020, when the political crisis unraveled and i had to flee the country, i met
4:40 pm
with european ambassadors later that summer and one of the top questions that they were concerned about was not so much the crisis of belarus but also to what extent russia would use the situation to somehow maybe attack develop -- the vulnerability of the belarusian government to attack ukraine now or in the coming months. having this conversation today shows only that it may emphasize how the international community views of belarus but how thoughtful those remarks of the ambassadors back then were. i would also emphasize that now as the lukashenko regime is clinging to power by any means, it became clear that they are divided to russian support. also economic support with diplomatic rhetoric when they called for some sort of rhetoric
4:41 pm
for crisis and the union state affairs. when lukashenko becomes more and more vulnerable and more prone to accept sort of any offer coming from russia, there are no talks about whether we will see actual militarization in belarus. that is something lukashenko was unwilling to discuss five years ago but now we have seen the establishment of the so-called training center in [indiscernible] in the western direction and there are actual talks about the capabilities that could be put in place there and to what extent this could be called an actual training center. then there is this intel report from earlier about possible technical plans around belarus and, let a rut -- let alone this hybrid migration crisis in the
4:42 pm
past month. it was interesting to see how russia alone could find nuclear capable bumpers in the airspace as a sign of solidarity with union state allies to belarus. i think it wasn't interesting way for moscow to be involved in this crisis to test the patience of nato, to think about nato solidarity and have nato members would react to this sort of damage and provocations on the border of baltic states and poland without gaining direct interference. then there were the calls from some european leaders and lettering prudent expressed reticence to offer maybe not a dialogue but how to handle lukashenko in the crisis and be an intermediary in the conversation that also in the
4:43 pm
end gave way to russian interests. i would also bring up the interesting results from the past that likely happened without some sort of implicit acknowledgment of russia with some sources that suggest that russian special services were involved in the operation. there's also evidence, something claimed by the [indiscernible] investigation that russian special services infiltrated the belarus and he breton ukraine. -- belarusian diaspora in the ukraine, in russia, and elsewhere. and it just brings an open question as to how far the cooperation would go and how the kremlin would use this to their own advantage to play around the desperate us of lukashenko and
4:44 pm
push for further concessions and use leroux's as a source of instability -- use belarus as a store's of instability -- source of instability in the region. the ukrainian issue is obviously didn't for the eurasian security architecture, but there is also belarus and their home crisis that brings even more instability in the coming months as the crisis is prolonged and russia is the bumpy-ist stakeholder in this crisis. also, if we talk about the possible policy accommodations, what the expert community is talking about, i will discuss that in a minute but i would also bring up the china factor, which is sort of invisible now and we don't think about much, when we think about belarus, but as the crisis started in 2020
4:45 pm
there were sources that suggested china asked russia to interfere in the belarusian crisis and to stabilize the situation because aging had certain economic interests and it brings another angle of the russian cooperation and how it could come into play even in places like belarus. then if we talk about the accommodations around what could be done, it would be oversimplistic to, to talk about some clear solutions and fixes to solve the isis or help but an end to the russian geopolitical appetite, but there were some calls to let's say include leroux's -- leroux's -- belarus as it is an important puzzle of the regional security and should be, the u.s.
4:46 pm
attention to belarus should be higher up in the biden boudin summit where it was mentioned just marginally amongst other topics. there were also calls to include further pressure on belarusian enterprises on top of the u.s. sanctions. should the government decide to host russian military capabilities further as it came into interplay with the other existing measures within the democracy act and the current sanctions that prescribed the possibility of sanctions on the u.s. and individual companies involved. here i have just one sort of caveat based on my previous years of experience in observing the belarus u.s. relations, when
4:47 pm
there was a attempt at normalization there was some sort of successful attempt on the belarusian regime to lobby on the heel and persuade that the sanctions should be postponed temporarily and exploit some loopholes and vulnerabilities and eventually bring those sanctions towards more rhetorical condemnation and make them insignificant. i think i will stop here. also again with the understanding that the issue is so complex that it just, it's hard to say there is one easy fix that could work today and mitigate the future risks. michael: great. thank you so much, katsiaryna, for that rich and textured context that really envelopes
4:48 pm
the entire region and it's a good relief just how broad this crisis really is and it is well beyond just ukraine. i want to move on to some questions, but first i would like to recognize representative marc veasey, who has joined us and is a commissioner with the u.s. helsinki commission. thank you for joining us. i want to give cochairman cohen to ask some questions and then we can maybe move on to the representative for some questions. chair:: i yield the mark. i think i asked my questions earlier and unless they are nostradamus i don't the car panelist can answer. i yield the mark for the time
4:49 pm
being. michael: ok. representative vc? rep. veasey: thank you very much, steve, for yielding to me. i wanted to ask in particular, i visited ukraine in 2000, it's hard to remember the year. it was before covid, around 2015, 2016 timeframe there. you know, one of the things they made clear about the trip was that russia really didn't want to take over, or that was the opinion of the people we visited with. they didn't want to take over the ukraine but that there were strategic reasons on why they wanted to be in crimea, particularly the access to the black sea, and long term they just wanted to keep things sort of disorganized over there. and i was wondering, you know,
4:50 pm
what, what do some of the panelist thank russia has two further gain by creating these activities outside crimea and further into the country? michael: maybe we can start with maryna? maryna: i agree with this analysis, it's been about keeping ukraine in chaos and maintaining individual power over their future because they understand that having the representatives and constitutional amendments that russia and ukraine pushes forward. of course it's likely to have this power to blow up ukrainian independence for policy choice. to join nato or the other choices people can opt for. i believe this point is still valid.
4:51 pm
i might be mistaken, but i hope that they understand that even though there is of course military disparities in the military potential between the two countries, ukraine and russia, it will not be a fast victorious war because one needs to keep these territories engaged and they will not be understanding these levels and asking the ukrainian people to protect the model, then. of course it will not be, it wouldn't be an easy military campaign for russia as well. it might be one of the individuating factors with a show on the resources where they won't leave ukraine alone while ukraine shoulders the primary responsibilities in meeting
4:52 pm
these military assistances on the sides of their partners. course there can be other considerations and we might ask ourselves this question, why now . what can possibly change in the calculus of russian decision-makers? is it about a limited incursion? many would argue that makes sense because in this case it some sort of cultural dominance that russia could use as a card against the west. cory really is about a changing of the strategic landscape, gaining access, for example, to the south, to odessa, where currently the ukrainian navy is headquartered that would hopefully finalize and give that final vote for this russian dominance, establishing this russian domination in the black sea.
4:53 pm
because of course now it's almost absolute. or many would argue that it's about a gap in access to the border for crimea. there are so many scenarios in place where it is important to assume the worst, be prepared for the worst and work on everything that could prevent those calculations, prompting russian decision-makers to take these decisions and go in for that. i mean, i believe that this is the math that could be understood and we should think that this is what they will be doing if it happens and it is important to be prepared and have this contingency plan and it's even more important to do everything to send this message
4:54 pm
that russia should not go for that, because the response would be very strong. rep. veasey: thank you very much. since russia seems to have, seems to put so much energy into wanting to be disruptive and you reign, what about georgia? is russia, is the ukraine scene is a much easier target in many ways? will they give the people there more breathing room as we say, in america? because they know that the russians will want to basically try to be as disruptive and ukraine, spending most of their power over there now? remember 2008, when russia tried to go into georgia. do you have any thoughts on that or does anyone else have any thoughts on that? please.
4:55 pm
>> the russian perspective that the georgians learned their lesson in 2008, they saw that, they demonstrated that. in the creek -- in the case of ukraine, they are a much larger country and it is still a goal to return to crimea, they continue to fight, ongoing. georgia, it was not much of the front lines possibilities. we have had ongoing hostilities and the situation is quite different and also i think ukraine, the role around history versus culture is so significant that i think the big issue is, it's a little bit like your question before. in a position where russia, they removed those three pro-russian voting areas ukraine and change the electoral map permanently
4:56 pm
and made ukraine a hostile country. from the russian perspective they were hoping at some point that there would be rapprochement, but now they see ukraine is still a hostile country from their perspective and now they are looking and saying we are now treating ukraine as a long-term hostile problem and we want to solve the issue now, whereas before i think they had hope things might come around. chair cohen: if you don't mind, i've got one more question to follow up on that. michael: please, do. rep. veasey: the corruption issues that they have in the ukraine, as opposed to the other players in the region, like georgia, does the corruption situation make the situation even harder to get a handle on and then sort of fuel a lot of the russian aggression there? in your opinion? or even if they were able to
4:57 pm
significantly clean it up, do you think the russians would still continue to do the things that they do in these provocative ways? maryna: yeah, this is a widely debated topic and there has been progress since 20 teen with reform in this place and probably it's not a 100% success story, but still, there has been progress. it's very important i think to understand. with partners sometimes, you can emphasize that ukraine is waging two wars or combating to struggles. the first is a struggle against russian aggression of course and the second is against the dysfunctionality of their own state. this we understand as a specific and distinct concept where reforms need to be carried out in those conditions and the state at the same time, ukraine
4:58 pm
still needs to be a militarily tactical state to receive this aggression. the other side of that of course is however corrupt any state is, it does not really validate any attempts to enact the taking of that territory and it's important to resist, you know, to succumb to the, to those russian promoted impressions, you know? that by supporting ukraine and providing military assist ukraine we see the corrupt regime and we need to be clear about this, that what they are doing just -- to provide support ukraine makes ukraine more democratic and resilient to those threats and i think that with this thinking, of course, there should be important checks
4:59 pm
with all of this gentle negativity that really pushed it forward in ukraine. we have seen that clearly. it needs to be seen in this way and again, it's nothing like, no issues like this should prevent us from providing more, you know, substantial support in georgia. referring to your previous question, i would be happy to say that, you know, russia concentrates on ukraine but unfortunately i believe that's not the case. russia is capable of maintaining several simultaneously and it has been a part of their strategic policy, we have seen in syria and elsewhere. for example. rep. veasey: very good. i appreciate that. when we were there one of the
5:00 pm
things that kept impressing on us that we heard profoundly was there was a former heavyweight boxing champion there while we were there and people in the ukraine new that he had made a lot of money in america, so they were hopeful that he was going to be this honest leader. i'm not sure how his mayor ship turned out or if he is still in office or not, i haven't followed him since we left, but i thought it was fascinating to hear that. we would hear things like that so often from the groups we visited. thank you, matt michael. -- you, michael. michael: i appreciate your excellent questions. i believe he is still the mayor and there was a report the other day that said he would be willing to go to the front himself in the event of a renewed invasion. so look out, russia, on that front.
5:01 pm
i want to move on. we have some great questions from the audience but i wanted to ask one question that has been a burning question in my mind, among other things. maybe i will put this to the panelists really quickly. russian demand, to the extent that they have been made clear, appear to be largely fixed on this question of revising the european security architecture. this is opposed to ambiguous complaints about something like nato seems to be the defining element here. i grep -- i guess to their mild credit they have been pretty consistent on this point. it sounds a lot like the former russian president dmitry medvedev proposal following the georgian invasion, another ominous indicator. however it seems to me to be a functional nonstarter that eventually carve up europe into spheres of influence,
5:02 pm
sacrificing the sovereignty of states that russia decides it should control in a kind of neo-yalta arrangement. striking me not only is bad for the likes of ukraine, georgia, and moldova, but a bid by russia to break the normative system that has undergirded cades of relative peace and prosperity in europe and the world as a whole. guaranteeing what would probably be generations of future conflict. i would like to ask our panelists, what do you think about this russian demand in general and is there a way to achieve a mutually satisfactory arrangement with moscow when their core message seems to be predicated on what some might describe as neocolonial policies? let's bring andrew into the conversation. andrew: thank you for that. it's important to also note when speaking about those frameworks
5:03 pm
and undermining decades of european security architecture, the russian policies argument that they make is that they are the ones following international long-standing political traditions in terms of russia being the key player in this regional sphere of influence and it seems clear due to comments from russian policymakers that they are not happy with the security architecture in europe and feel that russia has been left out of these discussions and that russia has a level of economic, political, and military power where they will reassert they do. so, kind of looking about debates about russian state
5:04 pm
messaging, it seems that they are kind of messaging to aim variety of audiences and actors. on one level they are messaging to ukraine, arguing that they want ukraine to recognize that russia is the primary military actor in the region. funding possible invasions and signaling that, you know, the west will not come to the aid of ukraine and ukraine has to abide by the washington interpretation and come to russia's understanding. at a larger level they are possibly signaling to the west that they want to be included in these new negotiations and understandings of the kind of european architecture to better include russian security interests in these discussions and understandings. possibly in the same way that
5:05 pm
many of these negotiations happened between the west in the soviet union and the cold war. again, i think it's important to understand from the russian perspective that what they are doing is again forcefully reasserting their claim to the west understanding their territorial influence around the dominance and of the sphere of influence and again, not to justify their approach or what they are saying but it's important to understand the framework they are using and to then craft policies and strategies to respond back to russian claims. michael: thank you, andrew. katsiaryna, do you think that there is a possibility in this environment around this? >> it brings us to the old conflict between democracies and
5:06 pm
autocracies and the chances that they could reemerge with the authoritarian ruler respecting the agreement and if it seems today that it is sort of safer and less expensive and difficult to have some sort of dialogue and make concessions to the troublemaker in the region, again, what are the guarantees that the same troublemaker would come up with further demands tomorrow? it also raises or lifts unanswered questions around the nature of the vladimir putin regime and all the violations of human rights, the lack of democracy in russia, their political positions and how much you can trust this regime that suppresses and has already demonstrated for two decades their geopolitical ambitions and appetites. was also thinking about in the case of belarus that for russia,
5:07 pm
any solution of peaceful democratic transition and belarus being an acceptable option, even though belarus won't turn away from russia, won't build a fence with russia overnight because the public opinion polls are not so much anti-russian and there are economic interests that are not necessarily needed to be kept, but at the same time in the eyes of the kremlin, in this ideology in their worldview, this is an acceptable victory of democratic government and they would see this as an immediate threat and something very much prone to the nato western influence, so to say. michael: care to offer some thoughts on this?
5:08 pm
robert: sure. russian officials have made a number of demands and one of the main ones is a broader security architecture question. russia, nato, that is one area where we should engage russians and look for substantive dialogue and absolutely, most of the treaties that we had for security cooperation in europe have elapsed. there is probably a good opportunity to look at where we can find agreements around these kinds of security measures that we can make around contingencies in an area that's useful but the issues are of you train, going up to someone else, it used to be that russia's goal in ukraine was no ukraine in nato and now it's no nato in ukraine. it's not just of the concern
5:09 pm
around nato, there hasn't been that much kind of active movement recently. it's the concern that nato cooperation is creeping lee increasing. but they want to do is draw a line now and say no more. javelin deployments are one. they don't significantly alter the boundaries. i think what they want to do is draw a line now to deploy something like artillery with rockets and missile-defense systems and long-range systems that would significantly change the balance of power and negate a lot of their conventional advantages. that's what they are really pushing at. the big question is, they have made a lot of demands. we received them the other day. the question is, what are the minimum demands that, if satisfied, russia will say this is enough, we won't use force? that once hard to tell.
5:10 pm
the main thing that we have seen so far is that there isn't that much appetite to make concessions regarding ukrainian sovereignty and i don't think should. we should look at other places where we can stall these security concerns with russia without undermining ukraine and we need to look at torrent steps. one think that hasn't hurt as much is the russian officials have been very clear about their systems and long-range guided ammunition being deployed near russian borders. it's obvious that one option they could take is discuss this system. we have so far said we are not going to do that but we could speak to our allies and if we do this, it could significantly worsen the russian security position and it might be enough to say ok, whatever gains you have by escalating in ukraine, we will offset that by worsening
5:11 pm
your security situation in the balkans. there are a few different things but ultimately it's really hard to tell what is the minimum demand that will kind of solve the issue right now are going forward. maryna: if i may, to answer your question, they operate under excluded -- exclusive premises. the west is very dialogue oriented whereas russia views itself at war. normal as they seek this concept for the moment with this dimension of not being content with the current international security order and it's important now to them that they are seen in this messaging around the ideal for a dialogue with russia, especially under the current military buildup,
5:12 pm
it's to how this message is very well thought out. we could agree that the idea of dialogue is very important, that it have tools within terms around something like the cold war and it's not a privilege that we grant to russia, but we need it at the time when the rhythm -- the relations are at this low, but at the same time we need to understand, can russia, are they likely to leverage this let's say proclivity to conduct this dialogue and will they try to find the vulnerabilities here? it's one thing to conduct dialogue and another to look at this kind of stripe of positive agenda in the relations with russia now. it is what russia pushes for that tries to compartmentalize our relations.
5:13 pm
let's put aside the ukrainian dossier that is hopeless and troubled at the moment. let's focus on some other potential, promising areas of cooperation and i do nothing should fall into this trap because it is very dangerous to say yeah, let's go into this transacted mode to decide the problem and focus, not to make it look at this as a positive agenda and focus on dialogue when it's necessary. saying it's really something that really prevents the escalation rather than rewarding it for the policies that have taken place. michael: excellent point. i would like to turn to audience questions. we have about 15 minutes left and we will try to get to these
5:14 pm
as quickly as possible. the first question here is from my old friend, alex. why should moscow decide the foreign policy other sovereign countries and why, when russia broke its own treaty with ukraine and invaded the donbas, should they trust moscow rather than nato? maybe, you know, hey, maybe katsiaryna, do you want to take a stab at this? katsiaryna: i think like why they disrespected the arrangement, just because they couldn't they wanted to. i don't know a better truth that. michael: i guess the question here is why should the west or individual countries trust the word of russia when they seem to
5:15 pm
have gone back on it in the past and i think the implication from alex, which i think is a sharp one, is this only promotes and pushes the idea that countries should join nato rather than dissuading from them. maybe you can comment on that. katsiaryna: i think there is another limitation to how much nato wants to expand and promote this idea, which i already met several times in the past year about the experts who would claim to expand nato you would irritate russia. therefore belarus or ukraine should, depict pragmatically, be a buffer zone not to trigger russia or russian interest. i have also seen a bunch of conclusions by the u.s. that would claim, why should we care about moscow when they are the key rival and maybe we should let russia do whatever they want
5:16 pm
to the region? i think that is a very dangerous pattern of thought because we have already seen in the 20 something years in moscow to what are the possible consequences of these inclinations. michael: great. would anyone else like to weigh in on the question quickly? maryna: i could. go ahead. andrew: when dealing internationally the moral
5:17 pm
questions of why should russia, some of them are what russia can and will do. it is bringing back the unfortunate reality of the situation that we have to deal with russia operating on that premise and it views certain things as national security and will take steps to advance and ensure its own security. again, understanding the framework with which policymakers may be viewing the situation and potential dialogue with russia, you engage with adversaries and negotiate with dialogue not because you trust them. you come to agreements because you don't trust them and you make clear lines and standard understandings because you don't understand them. you want to lock them into certain agreements and codes of conduct that have clearly defined standards of accessible conduct and what will violate
5:18 pm
that. it is not trusting an adversary but engaging with them to come to that for make of understanding to hopefully standardize and de-escalate potential areas of conflict and reduce the propensity or the possibility of escalation where russia believes we are acting according to one framework and we are believing russia is acting according to another. that is the possible intent of dialogue and i think it is an unfortunate necessity that you have to talk to the people you are not friends with. you have to have some level of dialogue. maryna: just briefly from my side on the question why russia
5:19 pm
decides the sentiment, the fact that russia feels traumatized by the current international order, that does not mean to give in and empathized with this trauma by giving in. georgia and other nations have also been traumatized by russian policies. i believe they should be kept in mind when we talk about dialect
5:20 pm
with russia that other nations have to be present and their interests have to be taken into account. michael: i think it is important to remember sometimes too that it is ukraine's neighborhood as well, it is george's neighborhood as well. they should have a say in what happens. i think this is directed to andrew. the question states, when detail mentioned is the u.s. is ready to sanction russia in the event of an invasion. this is typically followed by
5:21 pm
other ways to support ukraine. to your knowledge what kind of military support ukraine expect, excluding boots on the ground? in particular one of the weaknesses of the ukrainian army is anti-air missile defense systems. what assistance can ukraine expect in the event of a renewed invasion? i will start with andrew. andrew: absolutely. i will not speak to promises of aid or what it is going to happen. some other possible areas ukraine and its allies should look toward and we think about when we address security needs and areas of support, previously ukraine has received humvees, although sorts of things. the most famous has been the antitank missile systems that are extremely capable systems. but security systems are framed in strategic levels. the way to shift that is outside
5:22 pm
the balance of possibility. when we think about security assistance to the ukrainian military often times we think about it in increasing ukraine's capabilities to defend its own integrity and filling the gaps ukraine has. ukraine already has capable anti-ship systems but it produces them domestically. a law of the resources and supplies it needs are the less flashier aspects i would argue.
5:23 pm
support the logistics systems which include planning and advising, medical supplies. one major area ukraine needs continued assistance with because the u.s. has been supporting this is defense against russia's electronic systems. russia developed extremely capable systems and incorporated that in the doctrine. it is a major threat. when it comes to air defense systems that again is a tougher question. ukraine has outdated or early russian air defense systems. they are in need of newer and updated air defense systems. the question is, what air defense systems will best provide ukraine defenses?
5:24 pm
when we talk security existence it is not just the latest investment equipment. we have to think about the time spent to train ukrainian personnel on the equipment, integrating that with current systems so there is a whole range of things we need to think about rather than sending them the latest advanced systems. actually the ability of those to integrate with current ukrainian military capabilities and systems. we also need to think about not just with their partners are providing but how much those cost to make payments and train and sustain. if you provide equipment to costly for the ukrainians to sustain, that will become the net negative to the defense budget. it could be going toward other areas and aspects that would be more effective. michael: great. this has been such a complex and
5:25 pm
multivariate issue that we have gotten some great detail but i wanted to get to the final questions and i will read them one after the other impose them to the panelists to take on as they will. the first being how would a russia-ukraine military -- what is the world's response to russia moving nuclear weapons onto ukrainian territory after ukraine signed onto the nonproliferation treaty and certify the ukrainian territory would not harbor nuclear armament? i think part of the implication here is crimea or maybe also the possibility of tactical nuclear
5:26 pm
weapons. i will let the panelists take these on. maybe on the economic question, maryna, do you have any thoughts on that? maryna: i mean, let's put it in a strategic picture. the ukraine economic relation and how this will attack those relationships. there is another correction i see in the chat about general ramifications. of course, we understand this would be a catastrophic scenario. we need to try to prevent at all cost. we have seen already millions of ukrainians fleeing from the war not to mention the dramatic affect that will have. from the point of view of this political messaging to the autocratic regime today there is
5:27 pm
no effective response to this. not to mention the strategic security implication and it is very important what we have heard from the american administration. you ask civilians to increase the capabilities to strengthen nato. what concerns ukraine directly? what needs to be done? i think there will be some kind
5:28 pm
of response but short of sending the american troops on the ground -- i am afraid this undermines the principle of strategic ambiguity they have tried to develop in ukraine. if ambiguity is to work, you never start by saying we don't do the military solution. we will focus on economic sanctions. my view is economic sanctions are very important and they are uncomparable to the ones that were introduced. there could be countries willing to send troops netted to combat in ukraine, but be present in ukraine to support the ukrainian army.
5:29 pm
but also see many countries do this in the alliance, this would send the signal to russia away from more authoritative actions. i think it is the package. it should be looked into. michael: i have told some friends here at the commission that if i were a mid-level russian analyst i look at the administration's statement on u.s. troops, it's qualified with no ground troops to turn russia right now. it leaps over a lot of implications in the gaps.
5:30 pm
not to say that we should divine particular importance in that message, but as a mid-level analyst, i wouldn't feel so great about that statement. last question, and we are at time, but rob, if you could maybe address the world's response to the potential of nuclear weapons being moved on to ukrainian soil? >> honestly, i am not sure. i will see if andrew wants to take that one. >> i think there are a couple of things area number one, that would be a clear violation of every norm or agreement.
5:31 pm
i am not sure what you will gain by sinking weapons into crimea. i don't think -- i'm not really sure what russia stands to gain. just clearly identifying them as much more akin to a road that is not only -- rogue that is not only undermining regional security but taking aggressive actions by putting new clear
5:32 pm
weapons in a complicated region -- nuclear weapons in a complicated vision. >> i can only think of one way this might be beneficial in some segments. that is to bolster this notion that they have promoted in the past that any kind of confrontation with russia is tantamount to promoting a third world war. that will not take away from anything you said. i think that is all true. we are at time now and i do want to thank our panelist and also our a distinguished -- our distant wished audience for what i think has been a lively conversation about a serious situation. i would like to invite
5:33 pm
cochairman: -- the cochairman to offer a few remarks. >> i want to reiterate that the panel was outstanding and very informative. it is an issue that is very close to my heart. i visited ukraine several times. i appreciate the spirit of freedom. leopards don't change their spots. at a minimum, we are seeing a show of force.
5:34 pm
i think it might be a mistake for them to go toward. hopefully we don't read about this in the coming holiday season or at all. >> i think act ii my trip to the ukraine -- two ukraine -- i think back to my trip to ukraine. one of the students were killed there. it was a very sad time to be there. there was a lot of talk about people being sent to the front line.
5:35 pm
i hope the world can come together and make it clear to russia that this is not in their best interest long-term to continue in their aggression toward their neighbors. we don't want to have to be in any sort of war to lead to that sort of escalation. at the same time, it is clear that the region is going to continue to destabilize. we will push closer to some sort of unfortunate conflict that does involve war or casualties at the very least. this is just not in their best interest. the world will have to come together to convince them of that in my opinion.
5:36 pm
>> thank you. i look forward to working with many of you. we will craft a second countermeasure. >> dr. anthony fauci, director of the national institute of infectious diseases talks about the current state of the pandemic. watch the discussion tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, online at c-span.org or watch coverage on c-span now, our new video app. >> one of the most interesting lessons learned is how much uptick there was for these services. we are talking about the 75 old increase depending on the facility.
5:37 pm
these are some important steps that we need to take. >> health until commit occasion experts -- and telehealth communication access. watch tonight on c-span.org or watch on our new video app c-span now area -- now.

55 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on